Three races down, three more to go! This has been a great weekend of racing already, and it is only half over. Here’s a quick recap of the three stages we’ve completed here at the Tour of Atlanta.
Stage 1 – 6.5mi Time Trial – Friday 8PM
The plan was for Kristine to take the kids to dinner and play at Chick-Fil-A while I biked to the time trial start, raced the time trial, and biked home. Everything was going great with this plan until the skies opened up to a torrential downpour right before I left the hotel. Even with the rain, I enjoyed my ride over from our hotel to Dawsonville where the rain had already stopped. I intentionally didn’t bring any TT equipment to make sure that I got a good “Mercx” TT in before Nature Valley where if I get an invite to race I’ll have to do the TT without any aero equipment. My plan was to take the first half easy and then try to push it hard on the way back in on the out/back course. The plan worked great, and I didn’t finish last! Unfortunately, though, my Garmin got a bit too wet on the ride over and started to switch back and forth uncontrollably between screens. I eventually was able to turn it off so that hopefully nothing would short out.
Stage 2 – 77mi Road Race – Saturday 8:30AM
This opening road stage was the longest for the entire weekend. It was the same course as the final stage of the Tour of Atlanta last year, but the attacks this year started as soon as we made it out of the neutral zone. Attack, counter-attack, attack. Eventually, a break got up the road with good team representation. A few guys bridged up to it, and then I’m guessing the break was a little too big because the field started closing in. At that point, Jan Kolar (BBC) attacked from the field and I went with him to bridge up to the break. We made it most of the way there before the field caught back up to us and eventually remerged with the break right before we went up the finishing climb. On that climb, the field shattered and a new break established itself — this time with just 8 riders. It turned out to be the perfect number, and we worked well together until the last lap. I gambled and stopped pulling with about 5 miles to go, hoping to get a free ride and save up for the final climb. Cesar Grejales, Mike Creed, Sebastian Flaskamp, and Brendan Sullivan were having none of it and they attacked hard on the next big hill. I tried to go with them but just couldn’t quite do it. I ended up in a three man chase group with Ty Magner (Locos) and Spencer (Ion/United Healthcare). We made some progress for a bit, but then the four guys in front of us started to pull away. At the bottom of the final climb, Spencer put in a huge attack. I chased and was closing in by the top of the climb, but once it flattened out he pulled away to take 5th and I came in a few seconds later for 6th.
Stage 3 – 32mi Road Race – Saturday 5:30PM
I was thinking I would race this one pretty conservatively, so when a break of three got up the road I thought no big deal, things would settle down and I would try to do something in the end for a top 10 finish. A few guys attacked and got away from the field bringing the number of guys up the road to 9 guys. At this point I was thinking I needed to do anything to try to get away. I attacked before a hill and Jan Kolar went with me. We got a gap and Jan said “shake and bake, let’s roll!” or something like that. We pushed it hard for the entire second lap. By the end of the lap we had caught an Ion rider dropped from the break. By midway through the last lap, we had caught one more rider meaning our small group of 4 would be sprinting for 8th. It didn’t end up coming down to a sprint though because with a mile and a half to go, I ended up gapping off everyone on a hill and then just drilling it all the way to the finish. Jan came in a few seconds later for 9th.
Now it’s time to rest and recover before doing it all again tomorrow!